David Emery Online

Hi there, I’m David. This is my website. I work in music for Apple. You can find out a bit more about me here. On occasion I’ve been known to write a thing or two. Please drop me a line and say hello. Views mine not my employers.

Signup to receive the latest articles from de-online in your inbox:

What Can We Learn from Barnes & Noble's Surprising Turnaround?

29 December 2022

Publishers give discounts and thousands of dollars in marketing support, but the store must buy a boatload of copies—even if the book sucks and demand is weak—and push them as aggressively as possible.

Publishers do this in order to force-feed a book on to the bestseller list, using the brute force of marketing money to drive sales. If you flog that bad boy ruthlessly enough, it might compensate for the inferiority of the book itself. Booksellers, for their part, sweep up the promo cash, and maybe even get a discount that allows them to under-price Amazon.

Everybody wins. Except maybe the reader.

Daunt refused to play this game. He wanted to put the best books in the window. He wanted to display the most exciting books by the front door. Even more amazing, he let the people working in the stores make these decisions.

—Ted Gioia

There’s a lot of interesting points in this piece, but the overriding theme for me is trust. Trust in the staff to make the right local decisions for their unique market and local conditions, and trust in the audience that they might want something different.

There’s also trust in the very concept of being a bookshop, and a focus on the answer to the question “why might someone go to a bookshop?” The answer, which seems obvious but clearly isn’t, is to buy books. Not to drink coffee, or to buy assorted trinkets, or to chase after a completely unrelated business line in the hope that it might magically bring more customers in.

Focus and trust.

Visit ➔